The Minnesota State football team remains undefeated against the Upper Iowa Peacocks after Saturday’s game. Since the Mavs started playing the Peacocks in 2004 they’ve won 16 straight.
On the Mavs’ opening drive Matt Jaeger hit a 40-yard field goal at the 8:39 mark.
MSU was up 3-0 and the Peacocks got the ball back. They started off lousy with offsides on the first play of their second drive. This was followed by sophomore defensive end Maven Kretche forcing a strip sack which was then recovered by junior defensive tackle Blake Van Veldhuizen.
MSU had a fast exit going three-and-out after the fumble and was forced to punt the ball away. The Peacocks yet again had another messy drive. Getting stopped quickly once again, they opted to punt the ball away.
During the punt, MSU blocked it and tried to scoop it up but it went out the sideline of the endzone resulting in a safety. This made the game 5-0 with 1:45 left in the first and MSU was getting the ball back following the safety.
Upper Iowa special teams continued a bad stretch and the Mavs got the ball on their 43-yard line. Following this, senior Eric Grant had a 22-yard reception setting up Nyles Williams for an easy nine-yard rush into the endzone. Five seconds remained in the first quarter and the Mavericks already made their dominating presence known with a score of 12-0.
The Peacock’s offense finally started making plays happen and Isaiah Gray had his second reception of the game which was a 20-yard touchdown making the score 12-7.
Next, MSU’s sophomore quarterback 15 Hayden Ekern rolled down the field having two huge rushes. He first scrambled for 17 yards and later ran for a nine-yard rushing touchdown.
The score was set at 19-7 with 5:41 left in the second. At the 1:07 mark Shen Butler-Lawson had a 17-yard rush tallying the score at 26-7. Then the Peacocks muffed the kick return and the Mavs recovered it. This resulted in Ekern having one more rushing touchdown for 13-yards.
“Hayden had a big game, not only in the first quarter but in the second quarter. Scoring touchdowns and putting a lot of points on the board,” head coach Todd Hoffner said. “Hayden’s doing a phenomenal job whether it’s working our run game or getting us into the right plays and protection. One of the things I thought he did really well was working his way through his progression and if things weren’t there just running the ball and getting us into crucial first downs in some third-down situations.”
MSU received the ball after the break. With the first play of the second half, Lawson found a gap wide open resulting in a 75-yard touchdown. This was ultimately the nail in the coffin.
Both teams were able to find the endzone a couple of more times but because of the lopsided game, it didn’t matter. The Mavs ultimately came out on top with a score of 43-20.
Ekern’s first game back off of an injury was last week and they had a good first game back at Blakeslee Stadium. Ekern split snaps in Saturday’s win with freshman quarterback Camden Dean. Both played very well. Ekern went 7-11 in the air and had a strong 76 rushing yards while Dean went 10-13 in the air for 103 yards and 43 yards on the ground.
It is evident Ekern had a substantial role in the win today and the team can look forward to having him back. Dean was also very promising and fans can be optimistic for his future as a Maverick, whether it is playing a split role with Ekern or one day finding the starting spot.
The Mavericks took charge of this game and they hope to bring the momentum with them as they have two away games in Sioux Falls, first against Augustana and second against Sioux Falls. These games are crucial towards the post-season and they hope to carry over this game’s dominance into the next.
Header Photo: The MSU Football team dominated the Upper Iowa Peacocks on Saturday with the final score 43-20. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
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